The ball is back in the FDA's court. The DEA has sent its sister administration a request to consider taking marijuana out of Schedule I, which is the primary reason for the federal ban on pot. Twice in the recent past (2001 and 2006) the FDA decided in favor of the status quo.
The process involves NIDA and HHS, both of whom must be consulted before the FDA sends back its opinion to the DEA.
At the Governmental Operations subcommittee hearing on June 20 (watch below), FDA deputy director for Regulatory Programs Dr. Doug Throckmorton stated upon questioning from Chairman Rep. John Mica (R-FL): "The DEA has received additional citizen's petitions asking them to look again at the medical evidence surrounding the safety and effectiveness… That has been sent to us and we are in the process of conducting that eight-factor analysis… It's a recommendation first, so we make a recommendation to Health and Human Services after we consult with the National Institute on Drug Abuse and then that recommendation goes to the DEA."
Marijuana reformers are hoping that cannabis will be placed in another schedule, which governs how drugs can be used. Schedule I drugs are considered to have a "high potential for abuse" and "no currently accepted medical use in treatment." Marijuana is in the section, "Hallucinatory Substances," along with LSD, peyote, mescaline and psilocybin. Heroin and 63 other opiates are also in Schedule I.
Drugs in Schedule II (cocaine, opium, meth) are also considered to have high abuse potential, but accepted medical use. Drugs in Schedules IV and V have "low potential for abuse."
In February, 17 members of Congress sent a letter to Pres. Obama asking him to "instruct Attorney General Holder to de-list or classify marijuana in a more appropriate way."